Stories about government

Here is why I can’t trust the police in Pakistan

A friend’s recent encounter with the police has left me fuming. He was waiting for his sister outside a restaurant on a busy road, when a transvestite tried to get into his car. Seconds after he told the transvestite to go away, a police mobile stopped next to his car, as if waiting to pounce on him and hurled a series of accusatory and demeaning questions at him. He had not been committing a crime nor attempting to do so, then why was he dealt with like a culprit? And would he have been treated the same way had he been in an ...

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Is there any solution to Karachi’s trigger-happy muggers?

I sat there, bewildered; you expect it, consciously, yet subconsciously you believe you’ll be immune from it, somehow, by some grand scheme of the universe. Once the calm after the storm had washed over, it was replaced with a racing pulse and bouts of anger. Inadvertently, I uttered a curse directed at that hooded figure that only moments ago had stood in the figure of a knell beside me. After four years in Karachi, I somehow believed I had become equipped in the tools of avoiding being mugged. I barely used my phone while in the car or in public transport, ...

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Pakistan needs to stop spending on its defence so much

It was October 30, 2003 – 11 and a half years ago – when someone at The Economist penned an article titled Pakistan’s economy: Feeling undervalued. For the next three years, every Taimur (Tom), Danial (Dick) and Haris (Harry) praised and rejoiced the unprecedented economic growth rate in the history of Pakistan. But what happened with the West’s financial press that suddenly – and finally – people started taking about a Pakistan with something else to offer than its role in War on Terror? The answer is surprisingly simple; falling oil prices – and the economic growth that followed suit. In the fiscal ...

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As a citizen of Pakistan, I demand to know more about Balochistan

Back in 1998, while living in Quetta in our cosy cantonment apartment, I had known little about what this province in the southwest of Pakistan is facing. For me, it was more about exploring the rugged mountainous terrain of the largest province of Pakistan, enjoying the juicy apples and cherries, and experiencing the melting of snowflakes on the palm of my hand during winters. Back then I didn’t know that for 60 years this region has been a battleground. Even today many people living in other provinces of Pakistan do not know about the on-going conflict. Mostly because whenever somebody tries to talk ...

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Petrol shortages: Please don’t blame the government…

After a long and relatively blissful slump in the price of petrol, it was increased by Rs4 in the beginning of the month of April, much to the dismay of the public. This is the beginning of the end of long drives and unnecessary trips to anywhere. The reasons cited are as varied as the different kinds of Shan Biryani Masalas you get in the market (I am not getting paid for this, it only counts towards ‘interest in the kitchen’ points with my mom). They range from ‘rising oil prices worldwide’ to an ‘intricate Saudi conspiracy that will alter the very fabric of ...

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Is Zardari trying to replace a joint session in Parliament with the APC?

Opposition parties, under the leadership of Mr Asif Ali Zardari, have asked the government to call an All Parties Conference (APC) for deliberation and decision on Pakistan’s role in the Yemen conflict. A trend that has recently become all too common in the political scene of Pakistan, APCs are a way to bypass Parliament and put weight behind chosen leaders of political parties, instead of their elected representatives in the National Assembly and Senate. From an APC that discussed and decided to hold talks with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in 2013, to the APC which contemplated a plan of action to deal with the TTP after their brazen ...

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Militancy does not hamper vaccinations in Pakistan – our negligence does!

In a country already strife with political, economic and social malaises, it is truly heart-breaking to see the gross negligence and inadequacy of the government costing the country millions of dollars and, more importantly, millions of lives. Pakistan just wasted 1.3 million doses of vaccine worth $3.7 million donated by UNICEF to protect children from deadly diseases. The vaccines had to be stored in cold temperatures to remain effective but, according to a Health Ministry official, the frequent power outage was the main cause of the loss, as top management failed to address the problem despite complaints by lower staff. Two officials have been suspended over ...

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Why getting your SIM verified is important

The process of biometric verification for all existing SIMs is quite tiring, for telecoms and users alike. So why then is our government persistent on getting every SIM verified? Eons ago, when we were gripped by the frenzy of issuing different SIMs and used to boast about having two to three lines all to ourselves, no one could imagine that we’d have to retrace all our SIMs and get them verified. Some people had their SIMs issued under the names of their deceased beloveds and they are quite perplexed about how to get that biometrically verified. Those who have SIM’s issued under ...

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Perhaps Pakistan can learn from Austria’s madrassas

A year before a mosque in Kanpur (pre-partition India) was razed by our British overlords to pave way for a road, and while a Jinnah-less Muslim League was yet to overhaul its objectives – which until then asserted that ‘the party shall work towards manifesting a sense of loyalty to Britain’ – to work towards creation of a Muslim majority state (Pakistan was still a very distant idea), Austria passed a remarkably inclusive law, setting an example for the rest of the European countries. In 1912, Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph passed an act guaranteeing its small minority of Muslims royal patronage by making Islam ...

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Seventy-eight rupees

It was my neighbour who suggested I should go to them. She said it was my last hope. “Where are we going Amma?” my six-year-old asked me over the sound of the rickshaw. “Just someplace,” I said dismissively. What was I to tell her? That we were going to a place that was my ‘last hope’. It was her last hope too. The rickshaw driver stopped in front of an old, small building in the midst of noisy Saddar. With a heavy heart, I paid him Rs200, what we had agreed on. How would we go back? Maybe the NGO people could lend us money. When we walked inside ...

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